Mar 162017


“Shift” is the name of the City of London Ontario’s plan to spend well over half a billion (federal/provincial/municipal) tax dollars on a “Rapid Transit” system.

Supporters of Shift say the Rapid Transit service is “more than a people mover,” as the headline in the Mar 11 London Free Press expressed it. It is municipal council’s “vision for London’s future” and is fundamentally based on the “build-it-and-they-will-come” theory. A key component of this vision of the future is to get us all to leave our cars in favor of public transit, biking, and walking (as literally expressed in the Shift plan).

“Down Shift” is the name of an association of downtown London merchants who have formed to oppose the city’s “Shift.”

Ironically, these same merchants are also “members” of another “association” called the London Downtown Business Association (LDBA). When they turned to the LDBA for help, they discovered that their “association” is no such thing!

In reality, the LDBA is a BIA – not an “association” at all.

That BIA reality surfaced after merchants discovered that their “association” supports the city’s “Rapid Transit” project. The merchants do not know of anyone who supports the plan, saying that it threatens their very existence. Yet, despite being financed by those same merchants, their “association” nevertheless has declared that it will turn a blind eye to their concerns and continue to support the city’s big “Shift” to “Rapid Transit.”

The entire issue has been debated in a vacuum, and the critical conversation about whether such a project is even necessary or desirable in the first place, given the myriad of alternatives available, has been entirely evaded. Those forced to pay for the mega-project, plus those who will be negatively affected by it, have been entirely cut out of the conversation.

Instead, the conversation itself has been “shifted” to one of mere technicalities and minimizing citizen opposition by using “facts” to distract everyone from the real issue at stake: Who’s in control – the politicians or the people? Who is “representing” who? It’s tough to know.

When ‘A’ is no longer ‘A’, it’s all a bunch of bullshift. The entire discussion over “rapid transit” has become a literal war of words.

Case in point: The following two words both begin with ‘A’ but mean very different things: (1) ‘Area’ (2) ‘Association’.

By simply using one of those words to mean the other, our political “representatives” have been perpetrating a misrepresentation to both Londoners and London downtown merchants since the original formation of what was then called a “Business Improvement Area” – a BIA.

Today, London’s downtown BIA misleadingly operates under the name of the London Downtown Business Association.

That alone has caused a critical and costly confusion in the minds of its “members,” who are being forced to pay “dues” and who have been misled to believe that this “association” in some way “represents” them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Though we’ve been warning about BIAs for years, the crisis now facing downtown London merchants has forced them to finally take a critical look at this imposed “association.”

It’s a loser’s game pleading with the enemy. Signing petitions and holding public meetings are little more than distractions – for both sides in this conflict – and will have little impact on the coming “Shift” or on all of the bullshift that will accompany it.

Want to stop the Shift? Get rid of the bullshifters. Unfortunately, while cleaning out the current city council in the next municipal election sounds Just Right to us, it may already be too late.

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